We have a very special Sunday Harvest to share with you this week!
Following Taylor Swift’s release of ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’, as well as the momentum surrounding Framing Britney Spears, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the all-too-familiar tale of an industry with a history of trying to disempower some of its most influential Womxn.
So welcome to the stage guest writer (and passionate Swiftie), Jenny Reece, to talk us through her thoughts on Taylor releasing new versions of old albums over a decade on…
I was thirteen when I first heard ‘Teardrops On My Guitar’ play through the radio in the car on the way back from my grandparents’ house. I memorised the chorus and typed the lyrics into google when I got home. Fast forward fourteen years and Taylor Swift is still the biggest [musical] constant in my life. Last week, she re-released her 2009 single ‘Love Story’, which she wrote on her bedroom floor when she was seventeen, and will be re-releasing the entire Fearless album on April 9th. It’s bitter because she shouldn’t have to do this, but sweet because, this time, she owns it.
Critics say, ‘it’s just business’ and ‘she had the opportunity to buy her masters back’. It’s true Taylor was offered the rights to her music, but only if she stayed with her old label for a further ten years; she would be given a previous album for every new album she created under their power. This, to me, is a demonstration of manipulation and greed. It’s not a fair deal, nor the reflection of a fifteen-year relationship based on trust and vulnerability. These are people who sat around a big table and mind-mapped how they could perpetually monopolise a woman to squeeze more money from her. But maybe that’s ‘just business’.
Taylor said no to this proposal and Big Machine was sold, along with her life’s work, to a man who’d previously relished making her life difficult. She was never given the chance to buy her masters outright.
This man sold Taylor’s work to an investment company a little over a year after he purchased it, though not before he tried to paint her as crazy and unreasonable. Turns out, life’s not so fun when a woman won’t roll over and let you take what belongs to her. These are songs that she wrote from the age of fourteen upwards. They’re some of her most pivotal, painful and proudest moments, yet they are owned by someone else. You don’t need a golden moral compass to realise the injustice of it all.
I am sad to learn that no matter how many Grammys you have to your name, if you’re a woman in the music industry, you are still defenceless against spite. Artists should always own their work, and if it was ‘just business’, then Taylor would’ve been provided with the opportunity to buy hers. She is not the first this has happened to, but I think that if she has anything to do with it, Taylor Swift might be the last.